|Monday morning - the winter storm was NOT|
As Sunday morning rolled around, the weather was not... favorable. I checked several weather cams before asking the Boyfriend if he would mind driving (ever since getting into a car accident two Winter's ago, I am a big weenie). He agreed and we picked up N along the way, as she wanted to watch my lesson.
We left with an extra hour to spare and made it well within time for my lesson - the roads were in pretty decent shape, but some areas were a little sketchy.
|Pictured: Not Sunday's driving conditions, but |
still sketchy as fuck.
Part of me is glad her coping mechanisms in a stall are becoming less pacey/anxious, and I think having her in for training with Trainer K for a month will do wonders with her associations with stalls.
She was excellent to tie and tack up, cocking a leg and only shuffling slightly when I strapped the dressage boots to her hinds. She rarely wears boots, so I think it was a bit of a weird feeling for her.
We moseyed to the indoor and I took my time to hand-walk and do some ground work (as well as checking and re-checking my girth) before heading to the mounting block and hopping on. She stood quiet and tried to move off as I collected my stirrups, so I reminded her to stand and she did.
|Since we looked like the models on the top right the day prior.|
I still opted to warm up walk, trot, and canter - using the methods Derek gave me. She felt decent, but behind the leg. Derek greeted us warmly and we went off trotting, attempting to re-establish that "go" button and connection to the outside rein.
We had a lot of success with connection, although the primary focus of the lesson was the canter, so once that got under way we didn't worry too much about her connection to my hands and the bridle. We were worked mostly on the outside perimeter of the arena, using both the long and short sides for canter transitions using the same method he had us practice the day prior.
|Does anyone else see photos/videos of themselves riding and are like |
"WHY ARE MY REINS SO FUCKING LONG?!"
Moving into the canter, we stepped it up a notch by being more firm about where she would go into canter (vs her just falling into it on her own) and keeping her cantering. Most of my responsibility was to cluck and/or kiss to keep her going and to add leg pressure. There was no kicking or whipping - just voice and pressure.
It worked quite well and Annie never once attempted to pop back into canter or throw herself into the canter like she tends to when she anticipates and/or has a tantrum. The tail swishing subsided and she even managed to get her bad lead quite a few times. We didn't work too much on fixing the lead issue, though, as Derek explained to me that he believes I don't have a canter issue - I have a leg resistance issue. He went on to explain that from what he has seen in Annie thus far, the right lead is difficult for her, but she also spends a lot of time arguing with me about it (sounds familiar to my Anthony Lothian lesson) and bulging herself to the outside that she picks up the wrong lead. Ironic in a way, because sometimes counter-bending a horse can produce the correct lead - this has not proven to be the case with Annie.
With the idea of bulging, we worked on 'tickling' the inside rein while cantering right - asking her to bend and unlock her neck/shoulder area. I am certainly not doing his explanation justice, but it was to basically unstick the natural crookedness in her body. Interesting note, Anthony Lothian (who we clinicianed with in October) had told me I ride her crooked - which is something Derek doesn't necessarily agree with, but it's interesting to note both instructors have found this crookedness.
As we cantered left, we applied the same notion, except tickled the outside rein, as she was tipped to the inside more. Derek encouraged me to ride the canter "normally" (vs clucking and using my legs sparingly) and the canter I rode for 30 seconds at a time was AMAZING.
We fell in and out of this Amazing Canter (especially during the corners) but was quick to have it return. I couldn't help but smile and Derek called out, "THAT is your Dressage canter!" When we came down to trot, and eventually walk, I told Derek that we had never gotten that canter before - I hadn't ever felt that kind of connection or rhythm in her canter.
|Still need to lower that poll a bit, but looking better.|
All in all, I was very proud of Annie. The quality of work I eeked out in the two lessons was huge - we made a great strides and have made some steps in repatching our canter issues, which I feel quite optimistic about. I am glad I just went with it and applied some of T's advice - it would've been so easy to say we weren't ready (because we really weren't), but the knowledge we obtained and the lessons we learned were worth it.